China faces diplomatic 'crisis' over missing Hong Kong booksellers

Fri Feb 5, 2016 11:23pm EST
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* Five booksellers went missing under mysterious circumstances

* All have now surfaced in mainland China in police custody

* Two held foreign passports; Sweden and Britain denied access

* Diplomats see looming crisis

* Dual passport holders fear for their safety

By James Pomfret and Greg Torode

HONG KONG/GUANGZHOU, China, Feb 6 (Reuters) - For years Gui Minhai, a China-born publisher of tabloid books on China's leaders, had believed he could live and work overseas on a Swedish passport without fear of persecution by Chinese authorities, which ban such works on the mainland.

His disappearance, however, from Thailand last October and his tearful appearance last month on Chinese state television have undermined confidence among some diplomats in the protections afforded to hundreds of thousands of foreign passport holders in Hong Kong and China.

Reuters has confirmed that at least eight governments including Germany, Japan, Australia, Canada and the United States have in private raised concerns with Chinese officials, saying detaining Gui and his associates breaches the "one country, two systems" formula under which Hong Kong has been governed since its return to China.   Continued...